I’ve been staying with Sally on Daisy for the last week and, as usual, I’ve been having a wonderful time. The weather has been extremely co-operative this year: not too hot, not too cold and very little rain.
We have cruised slowly up from Wallingford to Lechlade and the river has looked stunning every step of the way. The peace on the river gets into your very being and, combined with the leisurely pace of life, has a marvelously calming and fortifying effect. When this is added to Sally’s delicious food and ever generous hospitality it has altogether been the best imaginable tonic to my soul.
Talking of excellent food one of the highlights has been the many crayfish who have thoughtfully jumped into our nets when we put them out overnight. They require a bit more processing in the morning than, say, buying a bag of frozen prawns from Tesco but, gosh, it is worth it. So fresh and so delicious! The invasive American crayfish are a pest in many of our rivers now, having driven our native crayfish into just a few remaining environments. Hopefully we are providing a small service to the country by catching and eating so many of them.
We had an unusual event just upstream from Rushey Lock when a cow swam past us! We thought the farmer would probably want to know where his errant animal was but had no idea how we should contact him. We couldn’t find the number for the lock keeper at Rushey so in the end we called the local police. We thought we would never find out what happened to the poor cow but we reckoned without the river grapevine! A passing paddle boarder told us that the cow had reached the lock and weir at Rushey where no fewer than three fire engines were waiting for it. (This is about a mile downstream from our location.) The cow took one look at the welcoming committee and got herself out. The farmer popped over to see us later and told us that she was safely back with the herd. She had, apparently, tried to get out beside a couple of moored boats but couldn’t make it at that spot. Anyway, I’m glad she’s safe.
Yesterday we hired a canoe at Lechlade and headed off upstream. The river upstream from Lechlade is not normally navigable by larger craft so this was completely new territory for me. Well, it was just delightful! The epitome of peaceful English countryside. We passed The Roundhouse where the Thames and Severn Canal used to head off to join up with England’s other great river. Past St John the Baptist Church and then off into the wilds. We paddled through reeds, overhanging willows, patches of water weed and all kinds of waterfowl. It was so peaceful it is hard to describe – it felt like going back in time.
We eventually found a little beach where we were able to pull the canoe up and have a picnic on the riverbank. We had time for a little paddle where we were absolutely surrounded by small fish. They varied in size from about one to five inches long but I’m afraid I have no idea what species they were. Finally we packed ourselves back in the canoe and floated back downstream with the current to Lechlade. What a wonderful day it was. And what a wonderful week. Thank you Sally.